The name of the weird vegetable I mentioned yesterday is ミョウガ, or myoga. The first nibble of it I had while washing it makes me reconsider my statement from last night that it’s probably unrelated to the leek/onion family. It’s flesh has a certain crispness and quality of affront that is very similar , and it also layered like those other plants in its growth pattern.
I sliced the myoga lengthwise (about a half dozen). I peeled and shaved probably and ounce of ginger, then split and chopped a half dozen green peppers. I sautéed all these on medium to high heat before covering significantly with water. I cut the leaves of about six or seven lemongrass springs in four sections (about 4 inches long) and added them to the broth. After cooking this down for some time the broth is still bitter and mild. I add chili powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After awhile I get desperate, and add a quarter cup of mirin, the sweet rice wine, as well as a large dash of salt. This is the turning point. What had moments ago been bitter, spicy, and lacking substance was suddenly a full-bodied and seductive precursor to the soup to be. Add the zest of one lime, a sweet potato cut in half lengthwise, split into four parts, then sliced lengthwise very thinly. I add a significant amount of water, then readjust my seasonings including adding more rice wine. Eventually I add about a quarter cabbage, sliced around its circumference and then chopped thinly. After the cabbage wilts, I again add more water, as well as the juice from one lime, and readjust my seasonings, then reduce my heat.
Meanwhile I wash and soak sushi rice for coking.
Julienned (or attempted to) a three inch segment of my still looming daikon radish, bought last week and never-ending, and dress it in salt, lemon juice, and an apple puree I bought from Nyoki Nyoki. To it I add ground ginger (grated probably would have worked better). Again I make the mistake of dressing it too early.
When everything else is ready, I serve my still hot soup into my bowl than crack an egg. After a couple of seconds it is apparent tat my vague notion of egg-drop soup had not served me. I return my single portion to the pan, reserving my leftovers in a Tupperware for later (and vegan friendly) use. I get distracted and leave it on for longer than I would have liked – I’d hoped for a running yoke. Maybe eggs cooked in liquid with runny yokes are considered poached eggs? Some day I’ll get it right.
The finished soup begs for red garnish, but I have nothing. instead I use lime slices and more of the green pepper and some ginger. I wish I hadn’t added them, because they had a bitterness that is unripened to an otherwise precious broth, now quite dark in color. The egg, too, is not as successful as I’d hoped. I think it conflicts with my palette, which is a blind attempt at mimicking the few Thai broths I’ve had. The egg drop is perhaps Chinese, but I’m not sure.
In tasting my soup it is difficult to discern what when well and what needed changing. Overall it was a great success. Before serving I worried I’d overcooked my cabbage (part of the reason I added the raw green peppers was to reintroduce an element of crispness). It turns out, however, that I liked my second helping significantly more than my first, that is, no egg and no garnish worked better. Still, it was difficult to attribute what flavors to what vegetable, as I’m working with so many new features. Certainly the lemongrass was to die for – Id thought that is was necessary to remove it before serving, but it cooked down to be so soft and flavorful that I left it in and ate it in great gulps. The myoga, I think, worked well for me too. It lost most of its color, but it was subtle, slightly aromatic after cooking.
Summary: salt, sweet, subtle spice, roundness of flavor
The rice I dressed with olive oil, salt, and mirin – OMG to die for. I need to buy VINEGAR.
The radish was yummy, as expected. I’m not sure what role they play in a more orchestrated meal. What dishes would beg for the spicy crunch of daikon? It is especially as I dressed it, so spicy and acid that an unadventurous eater would probably reject it. Idea: would it be possible to use mirin as a frying liquid? Anything salty, sweet, and fried is irresistible…